At last, our pollies seem to have got the message: housing affordability really is a major issue. Or, in Canberra speak “a political risk”.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has signalled an “affordability package” in the May budget, including a new Affordable Housing Finance Corporation to provide community housing with long-term low interest loans.
There will be a feasibility study first – which means it could take a while to provide relief to tens of thousands of young Australian families.
But it is recognition that the problem can’t be solved simply by throwing up more tower blocks.
And not a moment too soon. Because figures out last week show that not only is house purchase a problem, but rental affordability also worsened over the December quarter.
Ironically, our housing woes were sometimes blamed on the Chinese buying up our units. But this week, Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer singled out a glut of apartments being sold by Chinese buyers as a key risk for the Australian real estate market.
Apparently, the introduction of strict capital controls in China has meant many speculators are looking to repatriate funds.
Talking of the banks they were back on trial this week – with a debate over whether those who instituted schemes to cheat their clients should be named and shamed.
A major split emerged between Australia’s biggest banks, with the ANZ declaring it was in favour of the proposal as rivals at the Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank spoke out against it.
Meanwhile, The Financial Review’s Business Summit heard much about how technology will change our world this week.
The boss of Dominos Pizza defended his use of robots and drones, saying he was just ahead of his time and soon everyone will be using drone deliveries.
Those who work in the call centre business, however, had better watch their jobs.
Deloitte and IPSoft are preparing “Amelia” for the Australian market. Amelia is a “cognitive agent” who can speak 20 languages and learns by asking her human bosses questions.
She can respond to telephone questions and emails with a 62 per cent success rate, and she and her fellow robots will account for 40 per cent of Australian job losses in the next 10 years.
Which is why your call is very important to her.